BSEE Tests Technology for Oil Spill Exercise in Arctic
With the Arctic expected to be a major source of oil and natural gas, the development and testing of technologies to detect and clean up Arctic oil spills will remain a critical area of focus. As part of this research, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) Oil Spill Preparedness Division tested the capabilities of a georeferencing identification satellite (GRIDSAT) technology during its inaugural participation earlier this year in Ice Exercise 2016 (ICEX).
ICEX is an exercise designed to assess the operational readiness of the submarine force while also continuing to advance scientific research in the Arctic region. The US Navy has been running ice exercises since at least the late 1950s. Last year, the Navy approached BSEE about participating in the event, Karen Stone, an oil spill response engineer with BSEE’s Oil Spill Preparedness Division, said.
“We’re always interested in partnering with other federal groups and combine all their expertise,” Stone said.
The GRIDSAT system is a new technology in the sense that it is being used in a new application of existing components, Stone said. The Arctic’s extreme conditions, especially the presence of sea ice, create unique challenges for identifying, tracking, and responding to an oil spill. Sometimes, oil trapped by ice cannot be recovered quickly due to weather conditions. The GIRDSAT radio/GPS marking device can be left on an ice floe to track the movement of the floe and entrapped oil for up to nine months.